So UK citizens have voted to leave the EU. What are the consequences of the historic referendum for the (estimated) 6000 British expats living in the Czech Republic?
It’s important to note that any formal progress will take place after Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is implemented by the UK, and that will only take place (if it does at all) after Prime Minister David Cameron resigns his post in October.
And after Article 50 is implemented, the UK will have two years to negotiate new terms regarding trade, taxation, movement of people and so on with the EU and individual member states. It’s also been suggested that the EU will refuse informal talks until Article 50 is triggered.
In other words, there may not even be informal progress until sometime in 2017, and in all likelihood it will be 2019 before any new regulations take effect.
With that said, however, by that point it’s likely that British expatriates in the Czech Republic and throughout Europe will, at the least, need to have obtained additional paperwork in order to live and work in their countries of residence.
Exactly what that entails is open to wide speculation.
One might expect a visa agreement similar to the one the Czech Republic has with countries like the United States to be negotiated.
That would give UK visitors 90 days to remain in the country without paperwork in what’s commonly referred to as a tourist or visitor visa.
After that, British expats would need some kind of official visa to remain in the country; the most common types of that are a spouse visa if married to a Czech citizen, a working visa (typically handled by an employer), or a visa based on working in the country on a self-employed basis via a trade license or ownership of a company.
However, given the anti-immigration stance that dominated the Vote Leave campaign, even that kind of agreement might be up in the air. In the days following the Brexit vote, waves of hate crime and racial abuse have been reported.
How future UK leaders – many of whom may have spearheaded that campaign – deal with EU citizens residing in the UK will have a large impact on Britons in the EU. A mass exodus of EU citizens from the UK does not bode well for the 1.3 million UK citizens living throughout Europe.
Another option for UK citizens who have been in the Czech Republic on a long-term basis might be to apply for Czech citizenship. Eleven Britons applied for Czech citizenship in 2015, and six have so far this year, according to an article in Hospodářské noviny. Expect that number to spike sharply in the coming years.
Additional paperwork and long queues at the foreign police may be an inconvenience, as any US expat living in the Czech Republic can attest to, but it’s hardly an Earth-shattering occurrence. Still, for those looking for work in the future, hiring an EU citizen may be both easier and more desirable for potential employers.
Short-term effects of the referendum may actually be more severe than the long-term ones. The pound is worth significantly less than it was last week, and while this should eventually correct itself, that could be a temporary blow for both for those with assets in sterling (especially those living in the Czech Republic who are paid in pounds) and tourist services in Prague that target British visitors.
“It must be said that will be no immediate changes for Czechs living in Britain, and likewise for Britons living in the Czech Republic,” British Ambassador to the Czech Republic Jan Thompson told Novinky.cz earlier today.
While that’s true for now – and it will be years before any changes take effect – there will certainly be some developments to come.